What does the term carrying capacity mean?
Here’s one way to describe it. Have you ever been at a party, you’re having a great time, you’re consuming a few alcoholic beverages, and you feel in control until you try to stand up? That’s a loose definition of you reaching your carrying capacity as you should get some help to arrive home safely.
In terms of biology, the carrying capacity is the number of individuals that an environment can support (food, water, shelter, and other resources) without significant harm to the individuals or their environment.
Have we changed our climate to the point of reaching the Earth’s carrying capacity for our species?
Have we disrupted the natural carbon cycle by burning fossil fuels?
Has burning these fuels increased the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels within our atmosphere giving rise to more greenhouse gases?
Greenhouses gases are important to us as they trap heat from the Sun which keeps our planet from becoming a sheet of ice. However, we know that burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas are responsible for the increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere. This increase of CO2 has been building over time as it remains in the atmosphere for 100 to 200 years. From this, greenhouse gases are increasing, world temperatures are on the rise, and weather patterns are changing. This weather shift is similar to the alcoholic beverage scenario above. We have grown used to the subtle changes and the extreme weather conditions have become just fodder for the Weather Channel as we watch events happening in some distant place.
In today’s news, folks on the West Coast are experiencing severe drought conditions, aquifers are becoming depleted, farmers are spending upwards of $350,000 for new deeper wells, and drillers are actually turning away business because they are overwhelmed. This is just the beginning of our problem’s severity as some aquifers were locked away during geological formations and they have no way of being restored once depleted.
The burning of fossil fuels is one example of how we have increased CO2 levels in our atmosphere. On a massive scale, we have been clearing 32 million acres of the world’s forest per year. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists we have released 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year through the process of tropical deforestation. To put into perspective, that is the equivalent of 13 million rail cars full of coal (a form of carbon) stretched half the distance to the moon or about 125,000 miles. This is a huge problem for us as trees lock up carbon dioxide through their process of photosynthesis. A single tree can absorb approximately 910 pounds of CO2 over its lifetime, but when the tree is cut, burned or degraded the carbon dioxide is released back into the atmosphere. So, instead of cutting trees down, we should be reforesting as many areas as possible to offset the carbon dioxide we have released.
Treat the Earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors; we borrow it from our Children. – Ancient Native American Proverb
At this time, I would like to introduce Allan Savory who offers hope through the use of Holistic Management and Planned Grazing. Click here to view his compelling presentation as a perfect storm is headed our way comprised of a rising population, land turning to desert, and climate change.
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Click here to view Robb Wolf’s presentation on “Holistic Management and Human Health”
Click here to learn how your finances may be impacted by climate change.
Click here to learn/join a global climate movement that involves people from 188 countries.
“World’s glaciers losing ice faster than ever recorded“. Click here to learn more.
Click here to learn “Why this record-breaking dive from a polar bear is actually tragic”.
“Climate change crusade goes local” Click here to learn more.
For my next post, we will look at the issues with fracking.
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